Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

More Black Comedians with White Friends

Continuing the theme of a previous post on racial comedy: here’s Donald Glover, whiz kid writer and actor on NBC’s Community, talking about his childhood as a black nerd with white friends.

“I went to NYU,” Glover says, “where it’s like a Jurassic 5 concert. There’s supposed to be a lot of black people, but there’s not.”

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Glover’s anecdote about what his white friends can do–like a seemingly innocuous prank in a swimming pool–is hilarious. What is a white person’s apocalypse? Glover has one idea.

The NYT has a great profile of Glover in today’s Arts section, if you haven’t read it already (that’s how I found Glover’s stand-up clips). I knew that the NYU graduate was a great character actor from his television gig on Community in which he plays a dumb jock, but I didn’t know that he was so invested in his own comedy. Glover’s Internet videos, his comedy troupe, and his former day job as a writer on 30 Rock preceded his acting.

Glover’s backstory reminds me of so many rising comedians of color, like Aziz Ansari on Parks and Recreation and Ken Jeong, Glover’s castmate on Community. There’s a growing appreciation for comics of color, and their commentary on racial relations.

Is comedy the only forum left for honestly discussing race?

Too often it seems that our national issues of race are skirted by politicians (think of Obama’s reluctance to openly discuss race during the presidential campaign–and only when confronted with his pastor’s racist words) or painted as post-racial by Hollywood.

I recently listened to the women of The View talking about racial representations around Oscar-nominated movies (yes, I’m guilty of watching The View); when Vanessa Williams expressed her criticism of The Blind Side for its perpetuation of a black person saved by a white person, Barbara and Elizabeth immediately shot her down instead of engaging in dialogue.

I wonder if the conversation would have been different if there were more than one black person–Whoopi, maybe?–in the conversation.

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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